August 2006 Archives

Where I Want To Be

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I had Friday off, so a family trip to Gatineau Park was organized. I haven't run there at all this year, unlike last year, when I went fairly often. Time and convenience have been the principal factors. The fact that I have barely run hasn't helped.

The goal was to hike Wolf Trail, my favorite trail in in the Gatineaus. At 8.5km, and with a fair bit of climbing, it promised to be challenging for the kids. They've been very good at the local trails so far, though. They've also been enthusiastic about walking "in the forest". They also loved visiting Champlain lookout last summer, and the prospect of a lookout or two was an ace up my sleeve.

We started out from the parking lot around noon. We opted to do the trail counterclockwise, which in retrospect might not have been the best decision. In that direction, the climbs are steep and tough, while the descent is more gradual.

Both paths follow small streams, and we took advantage of one crossing to take our first break. The jujubes came out, and some frogs were spotted. The climbs got tougher, but soon we found our first lookout, and a well needed break. To our left was the green expanse of the park. In front of us was a valley, with a forested hill on the far side. To our left, we could just make out the west end of Ottawa. We spotted a pair of turkey vultures circling over the park. After a drink, some trail mix, and some more jujubes, our spirits were raised.

As we got closer to the ridge, some more, minor lookouts came and went. Then we crossed ridge road, and I promised that the best lookout was "just ahead". Of course, I'd only ever run the trail from the opposite direction, and it seems the lookout was about a kilometer off from where I thought it was. It was worth the wait, though. The lookout, right on the ridge of the Gatineau hills, faces the Ottawa river valley. Farms seem to come right up to your feet, and the river ribbons its way from right to left. With the binoculars, we could make out the hockey arena in Ottawa, and a water tower that we assumed was in Carleton Place (which was maybe 45km away). We finished our snacks, took turns with the binoculars, and marvelled at the cows and cars that were smaller than the ants that ran around us.

The general consensus was that the lookout was well worth the work to get to it.

The kids faded a bit on the walk back, but it was a shorter route and, as already mentioned, consisted of a gentle(r) downhill. Still, I took the time to look, listen and smell on the way back, to soak it all in. I'm sure I'll be thinking of this hike throughout the winter.

Someone asked me a month or two back where in the world I would most like to be. Most people are quick to give an answer like Europe, or the Caribbean, but my answer was Wolf Trail. I'm glad I got to go this year. Hopefully next year, I'll go back again.

The Kids Are Alright

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I'm barely blogging these days, which I regret, somewhat. Then again, for the last week, I've been barely training.

The kids were sick last week. I did my best to fight it off, but instead of a long ride Saturday and a long run on Sunday, I took long naps both days. Considering that I usually try to avoid napping when the kids are awake, especially after long runs/rides, napping AND skipping training is an ominous combinations. For the most part, I think it did the trick in avoiding full blown illness. Still, my energy levels haven't been quite right this week, and I'm still sleeping a lot.

So be it. I blew off the swims this week. Haven't run yet, either. I'm not happy about it, but I'm not unhappy....

The local triathlon mailing list had a large, multifaceted discussion a couple of weeks ago. One of the points it touched on was prioritization. Anyone can run, train, anyone can race, if they want to badly enough. It's a question of sorting out your priorities.

Of course, nothing is ever easy, and priorities can and should shift over time. Making training your top priority when you're training for a marathon PB makes sense. Sometimes, though, work needs to be the top priority. Sometimes, family does. Of course, family is a special case, because personal priorities always have to be compatible with what's going on with everyone else. This isn't always easy, and I'm no more pefect at it than anyone else, I suppose.

I sat down a couple of weeks ago, and tried to work out with my wife if doing the half iron triathlon in September made sense. We decided it did not. I could probably do it, and I could probably finish, but this is not the right time for me to do that race. The kids are getting better at attending my races, but a 6-8 hour race is still a lot for them, at their age. Also, while I've been training all summer, I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be. I've done the "to complete" race strategy before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. But I won't be doing it in September.

Honestly, I've trained a lot this summer, but it has never been a high priority. I run because I love running. I bike because I love riding, and because commuting to work on the bike is way easier on the family (and a bit easier on the wallet!) I swim because, well, *gulp*, after a few minutes in the pool, I suppose I enjoy swimming, too. But if the kids have an activity, or there's a guest in from out of town, or anything like that, I blow off training without a second thought.

And I'm totally ok with that.

Really, it has made for a fantastic summer. I'm in decent shape, I've had some great races, and I've had a lot of fun, both training and not training.

I've still got the fire in my belly, though it's mostly coals and embers right now. I will race again, and I will race hard. I will break 4 hours in the marathon, I just don't know when. I will do a half iron tri. I will break 2:30 in an olympic triathlon. I will break, no shatter, my 10k PB. I will break 20 minutes in the 5k. Someday. Soon.

Right now, though, I have no races on my agenda. I probably won't race anything, until the swim meet in February. I'd love to tackle my marathon goals next summer, hopefully when I'm out west, but that's something to think about in the spring.

I think I'll go for a run tonight. I don't need to, but I don't think that will stop me.

Preseason Benchmark

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I almost didn't get up for swimming this morning. One of those mornings....

I was one of the first in the pool, and just started ticking off the sets, one after the other. I wasn't really rushing, I think, but I was in a bit of a businesslike mood. 1000m warmup just flew by.

The first part of the main set was 400m easy, alt 50 free, 50 choice, focus on technique. I chose fly, because I figured going easy might help me work on my kick timing/technique, which is awful. I ended up talking to the coach about this after, maybe because chosing fly for a long choice set is pretty "out there". She gave me some desk exercises to work on my ankle flexibility, with the goal of improving the power of my dolphin and flutter kick.

Next came 300 choice kick. As my lanemate R said, there really is no choice. 300 breast kick it is. I tried to focus on keeping the knees together, getting a good back swing, and bringing the feet together. We were only supposed to go 70% effort, so I glided more than maybe is totally proper. Still, whip kick is somewhat anaerobic, and high turnover for 300m would be nasty.

Next came a 200 IM. Since I'm thinking of racing 200 IM next February at the club meet, I decided to time myself. The backstroke work we'd done in warmup helped me through my weakest stroke, and I felt pretty fast throughout. I ran into a bit of traffic, but finished in 3:35. Since my 200m free PB is around 3:20 (I think), I was pretty happy. Obviously, I'll be looking to improve that when the fall session starts in September.

45 seconds of rest later, I had to do 100 free, at 90% effort. Well, ok, maybe 98. Or 99. I wanted to see how fast I was. I stayed under control the whole way, and my :45 second split on 50m told me that I was in good shape. I tried to switch to breathing every 5 in the last 25, but that just wasn't happening. I ended up around 1:30, which is within seconds of my PB. Very encouraging.

After a full 2 minutes (enforced by coach) break, we did 5x100 on 1:55. I haven't done a lot of pace time work lately, so this was arguably tougher than the previous two sets. I did it, but with more huffing and puffing than if I'd been in mid-season form.

The workout ended up at 3100m, which I'm pretty sure is a record for me. It actually felt pretty easy. I remember my first 3000m swim totally destroying me. Something in my training must be working.

Short Week, Long Weekend

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Other than one swim, I didn't train all week. It wasn't really intentional, it's just that life intervened. These things happen, and I can't say I'm unhappy with how the week went.

Besides as fate would have it, I had both Monday and Friday off. Three day work weeks are nice, three day work weeks in summer are special. So I hustled and bustled through the work week, and set out to enjoy the weekend to the fullest.

After a brief trip on Friday, Saturday was back to business. My goal was to bike "something over 60km". I had gotten directions to my great uncle's grave on Friday, and was determined to swing by on my ride. I spent a few minutes on gmap pedometer planning out something that wasn't too short (it's funny when you stop and think "I need to go THAT far?"). I finally chose a route that looped through Kars, North Gower and Richmond. Off I went.

I rode down the river, past Kars, to Dilworth Rd, then back up Fourth line into North Gower. I then headed west, along a surprisingly busy road, to the turnoff to the graveyard. As I approached the road, I found it ironic that there were cyclists there, so far out of town. After I turned, I saw cyclists coming the other way in a steady stream. I think the MS ride was happening, and I was going against the grain.

Anyways, after a stop at the graveyard, I was back on my bike, headed north. I was starting to get uncomfortable in the saddle, but the weather was just perfect. I was very happy to be out and about, and I was getting a bit of that empowerment feeling you get when you realize that the bike you're riding is making everything closer. Still, by the time I found the war memorial park in Richmond, I was pretty sore all over.

From Richmond, it was a short ride home, and I enjoyed the quiet, flattish roads. I also enjoyed watching my computer, especially when the ride ticked over past 70km.

Sunday I left for my run before the house was awake. My goal was to run "a little farther than last Sunday". Part way into my run, it suddenly occurred to me that my wife might have an engagement that morning, and that I had left my house keys at home. Not smart. As it turned out, I was wrong about the engagement, but it certainly put a spring into my step. Gmap Pedometer gave me a surprisingly short distance after the run. Since I know my pace changed at least a bit halfway through, I really don't know if the distance was right or wrong. Not that it matters.

National Capital Olympic Triathlon

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Everybody's alright
Everything is automatic

- Matthew Good

Monday's pool swim gave me a strong case of nerves. 1500m open water. What if I drowned?

The truth of the matter is that I swim over 1500m all the time. Ok, so I haven't done a set that long in a while, but the whole reason I decided that I could do an olympic tri was that I'd been swimming 2400-2800m twice a week in the pool. Why had the logic suddenly changed? So I focused on positive thoughts, and told myself that if I took it easy early in the swim, I'd be surprised by how quickly it went by.

This morning was an exercise in experience. Do I really need to flip out the morning of a race, even a tri, at this point? I did all the things I usually do, and took comfort in the fact that I was in my element.

About 15 minutes before the swim, I listened to the swim instructions, then got in to warm up. The air was around 17C, and the water was supposedly 24C. Yeah, it felt good once I was in. I worked on some light freestyle, really focusing on lazy arm recovery over the water. I felt good. Probably not fast, but that was exactly what I needed to feel.

I sat in the shallow water until 3 minutes to go. Then I shivered on the beach. Nothing much to say or do. The race starts, and I walk into the water. No reason to run. I don't want to be in traffic anyways.

We swim out past the buoy lines, then turn left and head for the distance. I stay far to the left, and swim parallel to the buoys. I'm all alone, and it helps me get into a really great rhythm. I sight occasionally, but can't see the turnaround buoy. No matter, I see swimmers, and I'm still in open water. All is good.

We pass the end of the beach, and still I'm off to the left. I catch a couple of swimmers, and pass them I guess. The water's murky, so if you can see them underwater, you're too close. I pass a paddler at one point - race official of some kind, so I know I'm not too far to the left. Just keep going, keep going.

The swim, I have to say, is feeling awesome. I can see why people endurance swim. Sure, there are dangers, far more than endurance cycling or running, but there's a rhythm and a peace to swimming. I'm all by myself, all I hear is myself. I'm trying to stay relaxed while moving forwards. It's very easy to enter a nice state with all of that.

Eventually, I look up and the turnaround has jumped into the foreground. I swing wide around it, never breaking freestyle or really looking around too much. The inside lane, I've found, is overrated.

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  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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